Scammers Increasingly Turn to Text to Steal Personal Information
A message from Montana’s Attorney General, Tim Fox:
My Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) has recently received a number of reports of scam text messages that are designed to appear to be sent by banks, credit card companies or other financial institutions. I encourage all Montana consumers to learn the telltale signs of these types of scams, and to utilize OCP’s easy-to-use online reporting forms to alert my office. The online reporting system allows us to watch for trends in scams and to alert the public more quickly.
These fraudulent text messages usually contain a link to a website that may look legitimate, and may even have the financial institution’s name in the web address. However, clicking on the link may install damaging software on your device, or take you to a website that asks you to ‘confirm’ your identity by providing personal information such as your name, bank account number, credit card number, online banking user ID and password, and more.
A general rule of thumb to protect yourself from identity theft scams like this is to never to provide personal or financial information via a phone call, email or text message exchange that you did not initiate. Instead, find a statement from your bank or credit card company and call the number or visit the web address listed on the bill. This way, you can be sure you are using legitimate contact information for the business, instead of potentially falling prey to a scammer.
The Federal Trade Commission recommends these additional tips for dealing with scam and spam text messages:
- Don’t reply to the text and don’t click on links provided in the message.
- Delete any text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information like your account numbers or passwords by email or text.
- Report these text messages to your wireless carrier. Forward the original message to 7726 (SPAM) free of charge for subscribers of some wireless companies, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint.
- Place your cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry.
- Review your cell phone bill for unauthorized charges, and report them to your carrier.
NEXT STEPS: To report an attempted scam, use OCP’s convenientonline reporting form here. The Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission both accept complaints about scam and spam text messages, too. You can also call to speak with one of our investigators at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500, visit OCP’s homepage at https://dojmt.gov/consumer/, or call your local law enforcement agency.
Attorney General Tim Fox
Montana Department of Justice